the human condition

The quality of life for much of the human population of Earth is poor.  Many people live lives that have limited amenity, security, meaning, and fulfilment. 


Quality of human life depends on our ability to fulfil our needs and wants.  Those needs start with the most basic physiological requirements that sustain life, such as air, water, food, and shelter; pass through physical security, positive human relationships, and self-worth; and go through to achievement of personal potential expressed in such things as, broad experience, artistic creativity, social service, entrepreneurship, research, invention, raising a good family, sporting achievement, and acquisition of material possessions.  Most people who are at lower levels on the hierarchy would, given the opportunity, choose to rise higher.


A large proportion of humanity can't reliably and securely achieve even the most basic physiological requirements of water, food, and shelter.  This may be caused by drought, land degradation, or too great a demand on available resources, but it often caused or exacerbated by corruption and extreme social instability which destroys the infrastructure and systems that provide those requirements.  These are Earth's poor.


The United Nations defines poverty as "…a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education, and information."  So poverty isn't fundamentally about lack of money, it's about an inability to obtain the essentials of life.  The essentials of life can be bought with money, but can also be obtained in other ways.  Indeed, for most of humanity's existent the essentials of life were obtained directly, or nearly directly, from the immediate environment in subsistence lifestyles, without the use of money.  


In the modern world, many people, who don't have any effective alternative, don't have subsistence access to these basic requirements.  One reason for this is overpopulation that overwhelms the available resources – the immediate environment just can't supply enough for the number of people.  


Another reason that people don't have subsistence access to these basic requirements of life is that they are forced off the land that their societies have subsisted on for thousands of years.  This happens because their traditional ownership is not recognised by modern systems of land tenure. Corrupt governments sell this tenure to others, commonly large corporations from other countries, who use the land for resource extraction, and food, fibre, and biofuel cash crops.


With no access to basic human needs through a subsistence lifestyle, many people are forced to live and work in demeaning circumstances in cities where they are susceptible to unconscionable landlords who charge high rents for appalling living space or have to live in violent, unhealthy, and insecure slums.  They are also susceptible to employers who are able employ them in virtual or actual slave conditions in dangerous work situations, for so little money that they must devote their entire waking lives to work that achieves no more than providing themselves with the lowest quality essentials of life.  


This page is linked from:

the issues that humanity faces 


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